Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol 7, No. 5 June 21, 1944
Proposed Future Activities
Dear Sir,—Herewith the report as requested. I am afraid it is a little partisan. Apologies.
"I gave an anti-Red oration
To the employers' federation."
For the third time this year members of the International Relations Club heard a pseudo-rationalist talk delivered by a guest speaker. Mr. Harold Miller, the College librarian, spoke for some forty-five minutes to an attentive audience in the Gym. on "The Foreign Policy of the U.S.S.R." Commencing with a brief outline of Russia before 1917, he gave a list of the attempts made by the Czarist government to industrialise an "empire of peasants ruled by autocrats in an age of democracy." After the first revolution the Menshevik government tried to establish a bourgeois democracy, but it was overthrown by the Bolshevik party in October of the same year. Mr. Miller claimed that Lenin abandoned Marxist theory by pressing for socialism immediately without allowing Russia to pass through a capitalist stage.
"When its world revolution failed," he alleged, "the Bolsheviks were left stranded with a country facing capitalist aggression."
This crisis was averted by Stalin, "a hard-headed realist" who evidently stepped into the breach with the slogan of socialism in one country. A programme of intense agriculture and industrialisation was launched in 1929. With this came the grave food shortages, extreme inequalities of pay, and the "harsh domination of the Communist party over the trade unions." Moreover, came the rise of a "new upper class" of State officials who enjoyed many privileges denied the workers.
The first reply of the evening was given by Cecil Crompton. She criticised the narrow selection of books that Mr. Miller had recommended to this audience. These books, characteristic of the opinions he had ventured. were to be found amongst the more reactionary sections of the narrow selection dealing with this subject in the College library.
"Mr. Miller's facts," said the speaker, "were badly linked. While he had associated the expulsion of the Trot-skyites in 1935 with the new laws on divorce and abortion, it had apparently never occurred to him that the Moscow trials may have had far more relation to the coming war with Nazi Germany."
Further, Stalin had been blamed for appeasing Hitler. Russia was the country that opposed the partition of Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain and the Municheers had stood complacently by.
A lively discussion followed during which several speakers put forward opinions for each side. It was suggested that Mr. Miller had torn those sentences of Lenin which he had stated, from the context, and arranged them to suit his arguments. This was certainly shown where Lenin was badly quoted and in the many places where Mr. Miller showed a complete incapability to interpret the Marxist theory and its application to Russia.
The speaker was thanked for his efforts and the meeting closed with supper.
At the present time the International Relations Club is enjoying success which reflects the interest of the students at Victoria in current affairs. On the 26th of this month there will be a talk on General de Gaulle and the future of France. The club is also going to run a series of study-groups in private homes on Saturday evenings on Germany and the U.S.S.R., and students interested In taking part in these meetings are urged to contact the secretary of the club, Mr. John Miller. Through the year the club hopes to be able to arrange a series of talks by people who are authorities on their subects, and also to keep the range of subjects topical and of wide general interest. These meetings will probably be held on alternate Mondays, and there is time for discussion and questions after the main speaker.